What a way to open up the post All-Star break home games in the 2014 regular season!
After Stephen Curry tied the game with 3.7 seconds left with a clutch floater over Dwight Howard, he added seven in overtime to lead the Warriors to their second consecutive victory. With the win, Golden State snapped Houston's 8-game winning streak.
Behind 28 points and 14 rebounds from David Lee and another clutch performance from Stephen Curry, Golden State outlasted the Rockets at Oracle Arena. Both teams were playing the second end of a back-to-back.
James Harden had 34 of his 39 in the second half, including a go-ahead step-back with seven seconds left in regulation; Dwight Howard had 11 points and 21 rebounds. Dwight dominated Golden State's Bogut-less defense all second half, and out of 28 rebound chances, he grabbed 21, per SportVU tracking data. Both players continued a string of excellent performances against the Warriors. But it wasn't enough as the Warriors rallied after falling behind in the last few minutes of the fourth quarter.
Stephen Curry came on strong in the second half, all five of his three-pointers coming in the final two periods and overtime. Curry was clutch again, with key baskets and free throws in the fourth quarter and OT. Though he was harassed by Patrick Beverly all night long, he was able to find his stroke as the game went on. Back-to-back threes to start the third quarter set the tone for Curry, who had 20 of his 25 in the second half and overtime.
Once again, Curry and David Lee were the fulcrums of Golden State's offense. Lee beasted Terrence Jones all night long, scoring on post-ups, some mid-range jump shots, and numerous offensive rebounds that led to extra possessions and baskets for the Warriors. He ended up with 28 points and 14 huge rebounds. Curry was able to put up shots and get them to fall even while Beverly hounded him the whole game. The two offensive stars didn't really get any help - while Iguodala had eight rebounds and seven assists, he only had 11 points on just eight shots; Klay Thompson shot just 6-18 from the field, missed all five of his 3-pointers, and had just one assist. Jermaine O'Neal won't ever really give anything meaningful offensively.
Key Stat: 36.6% FG
Once again, it was the Warriors defense that stepped up when it mattered, forcing the Rockets to shoot under 40% from the field. Jermaine O'Neal had the biggest play of the game, a game-saving block on Chandler Parsons' attempted dunk with 25 seconds left in overtime.
Jermaine O'Neal rewinds time, blocks Chandler Parsons' dunk, glares into space http://t.co/PmMJbeBqvA— SB Nation NBA (@SBNationNBA) February 21, 2014
The Warriors forced Houston into numerous tough shots with the game in the balance. Golden State played excellent defense on James Harden as he attempted a game-winning shot at the end of regulation, and as a result Harden was short. The Warriors also forced two key shot-clock violations in the final few seconds of regulation and overtime. This was a Rockets team that had come in to Oracle Arena winning eight in a row, scoring 112 points per game in those eight games while shooting 52% from the field and 42% from three. For the Warriors to hold Houston to just 99 points, in overtime no less, 36.6% shooting from the floor, and under 30% from three, it shows that a great defense always, always has a chance. The Warriors need to bring that defensive effort night in and night out, and they'll always have a chance to win. On the TNT broadcast, Steve Kerr was noticing how it's the Warriors defense, and not the offense as has been in recent years, that's keeping the Warriors in games and the reason they've won most of their games this season.
With the defense doing its' job, Golden State just needs to be consistent offensively to realistically aim for a top-four seed. The Warriors sit just 3.5 games behind the Clippers for the Pacific Division lead.
Warrior Wonder: Stephen Curry
The baby-faced assassin did it again, with 20 points in the second half and overtime. A clutch floater over Dwight Howard to tie the game, a three-pointer to start overtime and give the Warriors the lead they wouldn't relinquish, and free throws and a huge rebound to ice it. Curry has become a full-fledged MVP candidate and games like this just further enforce that notion. Clutch, a leader, a winner: All these words describe Curry, a true superstar.
Up Next: Brooklyn Nets
Another one of the NBA's hottest teams visits Oracle Saturday as the Brooklyn Nets and their obscenely taxed-out squad come to the Bay Area. Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Paul Pierce have gotten healthy and led the Nets to wins in five of their last seven games to move within smelling distance of home-court advantage in the (L)Eastern Conference. (That the Nets are 25-28 and are just 2.5 games out of home-court should let you know just exactly how execrable the Eastern Conference has been this season.) Nevertheless, as we've seen this year, Golden State can play down the level of horrid Eastern Conference teams and it has hurt them. The Warriors should be looking for revenge against the Nets, who came back from a 16-point first quarter deficit and snapped their 10 game winning streak back in January. To really be considered for championship contention, Golden State has to beat the teams they should beat, especially at home. The Nets are one of those teams. Hopefully, the Warriors get the job done without any hiccups on Saturday.